A Comprehensive Z Word list: How to Help Your Child Pronounce the /Z/ Sound

z word list

When learning to speak, many children experience problems pronouncing certain sounds that are trickier to pronounce and require greater control over their vocal cords, mouth, tongue and lips.

One of the most challenging of these is the phoneme /Z/ that appears in words like ‘buzz’ and ‘zoo.’ Words like ‘zebra’ can become ‘thebra’ or ‘cheese’ can become ‘cheethe.’

(Note that when we refer to the sound /Z/ we are using the phonetic alphabet to describe the sound and NOT referring to the written letter ‘z.’)

In this article, we’ll be explaining the correct way to pronounce the /Z/ sound, providing a comprehensive list of /Z/ words, phrases and sentences then explaining how you can put this into practice using activities, games, reading activities and the Forbrain headset.

Keep reading to discover how you can help them master this tricky sound, build confidence, and grow their memory and language skills.

Word List: /Z/ sounds

It’s time to practice! We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the most common, child-friendly /Z/ sounds in English to help you get started.

We’ve divided them into three different columns- words that begin with this sound, words that feature this sound in the middle and those that end in the /Z/ sound.

Read these /Z/ sound words with your child together to help build their confidence, then use the Forbrain headset for further practice.

Starting with these short words can feel much less daunting for a younger child, especially if they know they have problems with this sound.

Initial /z/ Words (At the beginning of the word)Medial /z/ Words (In the middle of the word)Final /z/ Words (At the end of the word)
Zip codedesertrose

Further /Z/ sound practice using short phrases and sentences

To further boost your child’s learning and to get more practice, we can move on to practicing short phrases and sentences.

These can be highly beneficial because they use real language in real contexts – how often do you hear single words such as ‘buzz’ or ‘cheese’ in everyday spoken language?

Using these /Z/ sound words as part of phrases and sentences is an excellent way to address overall speech and language development difficulties, boost confidence, improve overall communication skills and assist in the production of other sounds, not only the /Z/ phoneme sound. This is why they’re used widely in professional speech therapy and why you should practice them with your child for optimal results.

Here at Forbrain, we recommend you follow this short program:

  • Use single words with carrier phrases
  • Use short phrases for the /Z/ sound
  • Use short sentences for the /Z/ sound
  • Practice with games and activities

Carrier Phrases

In the previous section, we shared a comprehensive list of /Z/ words that your child can practice in speech therapy, either at home or in a professional setting.

You can extend their abilities by using ‘carrier phrases.’ These are short phrases that you can slot these /Z/ sound words into to make sentences.

These include:

  • “I see a…”
  • “I found a…”
  • “I want a…”
  • “He found a…”
  • “She found a…”
  • “I have a…”
  • “He has a…”
  • “She has a…”
  • “I like to…”
  • “He likes to…”

To use these carrier phrases, simply slot a /Z/ word into the empty space provided.

Here are some examples:

  • “I found a ZOMBIE”
  • “I see a WIZARD”
  • “I want CHEESE”

There are many games and activities you can play with your child to encourage further practice. ‘Hide and Seek,’ ‘Sensory Bin Dig’ and ‘Find and Picture Bingo’ are all fun and effective tools.


Short Phrases for /z/ Sound

Here are some useful short phrases you can practice with your child to help their pronunciation of the /Z/ sound. As before, we’ve divided these words according to where the sound appears in the word or phrase: beginning, middle or end.

Short Phrases: Initial /Z/Short Phrases: Medial /Z/Short Phrases: Final /Z/
Zach sitsFresh daisyTwo dogs
Fresh zucchiniGreen lizardFresh cookies
Wild zebraBig closetSay please
Day at the zooPuzzle piecesWorker bees
A zillion starsNice presentBaked beans
Girl called ZoeBox of raisinsHouse keys
Number zeroSnow blizzardGoing to sneeze
Electric zapBusy morningBaby’s fingers

Short Sentences for /Z/ Sound

Once your child is comfortable using those short phrases with the /Z/ sound, you can move on to practicing longer sentences.

Again, we’ve divided them into three groups: /Z/ sounds that appear at the beginning, middle and end of the word or sentence.

Short Sentences: Initial /Z/Short Sentences: Medial /Z/Short sentences: Final /Z/
We saw a zebra in the jungle.The lizard moves fast.I love fresh cookies!
We’re going to the zoo on Monday.I want raisins in my cereal.I have two cats.
Zach sits on the grass.They worked on the puzzle together.The baby’s fingers were tiny.
You will zap yourself if you touch the wire.He is feeling lazy today.They are big houses.
There are a zillion fish in the sea.I have a nice present.Take care of your pencils.

Games & Activities with /Z/ phoneme Words

Explaining how to make the /Z/ sound or practicing those /Z/ phrases or sentences can sometimes feel boring or difficult for a child.

If they aren’t mentally stimulated, growing in confidence and having fun, they’re less likely to want to improve and it could even take longer to improve their articulation skills.

That’s why, alongside using Forbrain, we recommend that you enjoy interactive games and activities with your child to practice this sound. By doing so, you will help improve their speech articulation abilities and language fluency and nurture your bond.

Here are a few ways you can do this:

Make it personal

Review the list of the /Z/ sound words that we shared above and select the ones that would most interest your child. Then consider any other /Z/ words that your child would use and add them. For example, my son loved zombies from a young age so that is one of the most important words we included!

Add /Z/ words to everyday life

Whenever you’re interacting with your child, talk about what you are doing and include as many words containing the /Z/ sound as possible. Refer to the above list if you need a reminder.

Use books

Whenever you look for a new storybook to read to your child, aim to find something that includes plenty of /Z/ sound words. Speak to your local librarian or conduct a quick Google search if you need more ideas.

We love the books:

Write your own book

If you’re a creative person, you could also write your own book for your child. Give them a /Z/ alias such as Zack, Ezra, Eliza, or Zane, then let your imagination run wild, using as many /Z/ sound words as you can. Who knows? It could even become their favorite bedtime story!

How to pronounce the /Z/ sound

Before you help your child improve their pronunciation of the /Z/ phoneme, you should first understand exactly how to do it.

When it comes to producing speech sounds, we use several parts of our body.

Air first comes from our lungs, passes over our vocal folds (vocal cords), and then is shaped by our tongue, lips, and nose to produce the exact sound we want. Sometimes we produce sounds using our vocal cords and other times they stay open.

Exercise: How do YOU pronounce the /Z/ sound?

Let’s have a look at how this works for the /Z/ sound by saying the word ‘buzz.’

Start by placing your hand on the front of your neck to where your voice box (larynx) lies then say the word ‘buzz.’ You’ll notice that you feel a vibration in your throat when you pronounce the /Z/ sound. This shows you that you are using your vocal cords when using this sound.

Next, repeat this exercise using a few of the most common /Z/ words such as ‘boys’, ‘eyes’ and ‘jazz’ and take note of the position of your tongue, lips, and teeth. This can be tricky so repeat as many times as you like to get a better idea. What did you notice?

As you can see from this exercise, pronouncing this sound can be challenging for young children as it requires a very precise tongue shape, close constriction between the tongue and roof of the mouth and consistent air flow. Having said that, most children can pronounce the /Z/ sound by the age of around four.

If your child is having problems with this sound, try not to worry too much. Use the games and activities we’ll be sharing later in this article and use the patented Forbrain headset for practice. Your child will soon get there!

How to produce the /Z/ sound correctly

Now you’ve got a better idea of how we create the sounds in our speech, let’s see the correct way to pronounce the /Z/ sound phoneme.

  1. Put your tongue behind your top front teeth (but leave a small amount of space)
  2. Spread your lips wide.
  3. Allow your vocal cords to vibrate while you push air up from your lungs.
  4. Try pronouncing the word ‘buzz’.

If you’re looking for extra guidance or practice, watch this useful video from ‘Rachel’s English’ for guidance on how to pronounce the /Z/ sound.

[Note that the above video also covers the /s/ sound. Click here to find our comprehensive guide to the /S/ blend words]

Using Forbrain to Upgrade Sound Practice

One of the most effective ways to improve your child’s pronunciation of the /Z/ sound is to practice using the patented Forbrain headset daily.

It’s used widely by specialists, therapists, and educators to address learning difficulties, auditory processing problems and speech and communication challenges, including any difficulties pronouncing the /Z/ phoneme.

Backed by years of research, it uses scientifically proven techniques to help improve articulation and improve phonemic awareness while boosting memory, confidence, communication skills and better language learning.

Using an enhanced auditory feedback look via bone conduction, it provides your child with instant feedback when they pronounce the /Z/ phoneme and amplifies their voice so they can hear the sounds they’re creating more clearly.

With just 10 minutes of practice per day for 6-8 weeks, you will see your child’s pronunciation of the /Z/ sound improve and help unlock their true potential.

Invest in your child’s future. Buy Forbrain today.


Final Words

When learning to speak, there are many sounds that children can mispronounce or avoid saying because they are tricky. The common phoneme /Z/ is one of the most challenging of these.

Understanding how to pronounce this sound correctly, using short phrases and sentences, playing games and activities and using the scientifically-proven Forbrain headset, will help your child master the /Z/ sound, grow in confidence and improve their communication skills while having fun.

Charlotte Witts

Charlotte is a linguistics graduate, ESL teacher and parent who is passionate about sharing her expertise in speech therapy, language acquisition and second-language learning so everyone can reach their full potential.

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